The blue carpet covering the stairs was decorated with patches of gray duct tape, camouflaging the well-worn tears that exposed the underlying carpet pad. How many thousands of feet have traversed these steps, I wondered? Arranged in a semicircle, the three tiers led to a platform with a simple wooden podium and a microphone. Behind it, a simple but imposing wooden Cross hung on the wall. This was the altar of this church. It was not the elaborately carved wooden table, adorned with colorful tapestries, reminiscent of other great historical churches in the world. It was not even a table, but it did not have to be.
The pastor concluded his sermon. It was a powerful testimony based up a painful episode in his life when he battled petty accusations hurled against him by members within his own church. Although the issue had resolved, he still harbored resentment and could not let it go. As he prepared this sermon, the Holy Spirit convicted him of his own hypocrisy and he fell on his knees weeping and confessing his unrepentant and unforgiving heart toward others.
“Once again, I had to come to the altar of God and ask for forgiveness.” he sobbed, as he surveyed the congregation.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:9 (ESV)
For the seeker, an altar call is a physical outward affirmation of the internal confession and repentance of one’s sins and accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. For the believer, an altar call can be a time to repent of unconfessed sins and renew and restore the relationship that God has given unto us. Do we really need to make a public confession?
And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.
Colossians 2:13-14 (ESV)
Jesus Christ has taken all of our sins: past, present, and future, and nailed them to His Cross. His naked and bleeding body was laid bare for everyone to see. He endured this very public humiliation to redeem all of us of our sins and accept the punishment that we justly deserved from God. Jesus was not ashamed to be lifted up for the world to see. We should remember what Jesus did for us and never be ashamed to publically declare our faith in Him.
Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.